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Nearly every day, I use the same five roads to get to my office. Not surprisingly, I use the same five roads to come back home. Same roads, every day.

I can go to work on the same roads that I come home on, but I can’t come home and go to work at the same time. I may use the same roads, but each destination requires me to head in a different direction. There’s a difference between going out and coming in.

Psalm 121:8 says: “The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore” (NKJV).

I’ve been captivated by the phrase “going out and coming in” since I realized how often it is used in Scripture. 

  • When Moses felt he could no longer go out or come in, he prayerfully appointed Joshua as his successor (Deut. 31:2).
  • God’s covenant with Israel was that they would be blessed when they came in and blessed when they went out (Deut. 28:6).
  • David, as captain of the army and later as king of Israel, went out and came in before the people (1 Sam. 18:13-16).
  • Solomon entered his reign as Israel’s king with a prayer for wisdom and a desire to learn how to go out and come in (1 Kings 3:7).
  • Jesus said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

There seems to be a rhythm to spiritual leadership, a cadence that calls us to come in to God’s presence and go out with God’s presence. We have been sent by God, but we must remember that the Holy Spirit uses both sides of the road.

Pastors and leaders are often tempted to go out toward ministry opportunities at the expense of coming in to the secret place of God. Solomon made peace treaties by going out to the nations, but he neglected his personal time in God’s presence and became confused, discontented, troubled and wayward.

On the other hand, pastors and leaders can too easily forget that preaching must be mixed with an equal part of practicing. We must go out and face the battles of life. We have territory to claim for God’s kingdom.

Perhaps my spiritual life is not too different from my route to work. Every day, God gives me the privilege to come in to His presence to be restored in my own soul; but then He sends me out to a world of people who desperately need His touch.

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is senior pastor of New Hope Worship Center (Concord Foursquare Church) in Concord, N.C.